Confession: I still watch Grey's Anatomy.
Hear me out. I promise, this isn't a Grey's recap post.
But really, this season has been pretty good. A recent episode focused on Miranda Bailey experiencing a major life event followed by an epiphany about what truly mattered in her life (and what didn't). To paraphrase Miranda - You have to let go of the things that don't matter, so you have space to hold on to the things that do.
Let's say that again because it's worth repeating:
You have to let go of the things that don't matter, so you have space to hold on to the things that do.
That's something that's really hit home with me lately.
With Meadow Beagle getting so sick and then experiencing the unbearable pain of losing her, I've found myself lost in thought about all of the good times we've spent with her over the years. She was a special little dog, that's for sure.
And all that introspection got me thinking about what matters - what I hold on to and what I let go of. In fact, I started this blog post with this title before that episode of Grey's Anatomy aired, and before we lost Meadow, so it's been on my mind for a while.
When I think back to when we first rescued that sweet little beast in 2011, I have such fond memories of that time overall. We were living in small, vibrant city (that is apparently "the next Brooklyn") in a house that I love (and that we hope to start using as a vacation home soon). I could walk or bike anywhere I needed to go, I had finally started working out (although not running yet), and I had a fun social life.
Despite my rosy memories, 2011 wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. I had a really terrible work experience that year. It was awful. I was miserable. And the job that replaced the job I lost was also not what I expected (although retrospectively, provided valuable experience for the future).
I spent a lot of time that year being pissed off and sad about work. And I was itching to move out of Pennsylvania.
But now, all these years later, those bad experiences are not what I think of first when I think of that time in my life. Part of this is mere cognitive bias, specifically the fading affect bias, but maybe that's okay.
The things I think about when looking back on that particular time in my life are my family (obviously, including my dogs), my friends, the house where we lived, the activities we participated in, the Etsy shop I ran, writing a really terrible fashion blog (the fashion was terrible, not the writing), and the fun I had in the city - the things that matter.
In light of all that, I started thinking about my current stage of life.
I've been working myself to the bone with barely any time to eat or sleep, and one particular project was the main reason for that. And it was causing a lot of completely unnecessary stress.
It made me cranky, snappy, and generally miserable. It took away joy from my full-time job and my freelance work/consulting business and clients who I actually enjoy working with, and stole valuable time from other fun things I wanted to be doing (art, running, yoga, life). And of course, it took time away from my family.
I didn't have time for the things that matter.
After two particularly insane weeks (one with crazy deadlines and another with crazy work and a sick dog), I decided enough was enough. There was simply no point in the stress I was dealing with and it was something I could easily let go of.
I'm luckier now than I was back in 2011. I have more options and the luxury of letting go of a side gig if it's not working for me (also, I worked hard to get to the point of having choices like this and I'm not done yet).
So I let go. I let go of something that didn't matter.
And with that I could refocus on things that do matter - my family, my health, art and design projects, and other side projects I've been putting off because I didn't have time.
Once I put in my notice with the stressful side gig, I felt an immediate rush of relief. My mood improved and my stress levels felt lighter.
And I'm so glad that what ended up being Meadow's final week with us wasn't mired by unnecessary stress. I spent time with her, met all of my other deadlines, and didn't feel like a frazzled train wreck (just a brokenhearted train wreck, but that's a different story).
Despite letting go of a bad situation, I'm still busy. But the difference now is a relatively unimportant thing that was taking up a disproportionate amount of brain space and time is gone. And that leaves me with more space to experience and enjoy all of those things that matter. And those things? They're what I'll think of first 7 years from now when I think back to 2018.